Processing the Connecticut School / Community Crisis

Last Friday’s shooting at a Connecticut elementary school has left every parent, student, and teacher in shock and disbelief. The following are some ideas to help process this issue:
• We should talk about what is upsetting. We need to reassure each other that it is normal to emotionally be upset and angry that evil exists to this magnitude. Each person needs to express grief in the context of family and friends, but grief is often expressed differently for each person. For other discussion ideas, check out http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2012/12/talking-with-children.html or http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/explaining-news-our-kids
• No one knows the complete answer to why these things happen, despite the media’s attempt to analyze each step of decision making.
• If your friend, sibling, or younger child will not talk, perhaps ask an open ended question to get the conversation started. Reassure that person that you care.
• We may all question our safety or personal security. We need to reassure each other that it is extreme behavior for anyone to take lives because of a mental illness or anger issue. We need to remind ourselves that our school and local law enforcement are doing everything we can to keep our school and community safe.
• None of us has all the answers. But it is wise to work together making our community even safer.
• We need to limit our media intake. Listening to or watching the rehearsal of a crisis or tragedy is mentally unhealthy.
• If we are worried about an individual suffering from a crisis aftermath, we need to voice that concern to others who can help.
• Keep a normal routine. A regular schedule gives a sense of security. This may seem odd when all of us are reacting to a crisis differently, but a routine helps us to think more sanely.
• Rituals before bedtime or early in the morning can be helpful for all ages. Reading a great book, listening to music, singing a song, or telling a family story can help each of us stay focused.
• If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your teacher, the administration, or Mr. Bednar. Each of us want our school and community to be safe.

Other sites with appropriate conversation topics are
1. http://techsavvymama.com/2012/12/sandy-hook-school-tragedy-helpful-tips-for-talking-to-your-kids.html
2. http://www.pbs.org/parents/talkingwithkids/news/#
3. http://www.nctsn.org/resources/audiences/school-personnel/trauma-toolkit#

Portions of this information has been adapted from the Crisis Management Institute in Salem, Oregon, Westside Public Schools, National School Public Relations Association. Pleasanton Public Schools has had a ‘Crisis Team’ for a number of years with the purpose of responding to any type of tragedy or event that might be upsetting to students, staff, and parents. If you have questions about our School Crisis Team, please contact Mr. Bednar.

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